the big water reveal.

Hurray! You came back to join in on all the water fun- you were waiting in anticipation weren’t you? (Enter sarcasm).

All kidding aside, I am also totally surprised by my new found enthusiasm for clean water. But am even more surprised by how little I knew about my municipal water yet the quantity I was consuming every single day! (Much less eagerly pouring to my family).

So yesterday I broke down the questions that my husband and I asked ourselves. We agreed that we wanted to use our municipal water on a daily basis, but needed an emergency water supply that didn’t require replenishing a stockpile of gallon water jugs every few months. We wanted specific things removed from our water: fluoride, heavy metals, chlorine, and possible cysts/viruses (if they enter the water supply). The cost and type of device though took some time to narrow down.

I had heard great things about ZeroWater and started my search with them (I should mention that we had been using a Brita filter for years but learned that it actually INCREASES the levels of aluminum you ingest. No thanks. I want to remove things.). My findings were promising at first- most pitchers even came with a pen type device (TDS meter) that is designed to detect inorganic compounds. That seemed like a plus- the hubby and I both love instant and tangible evidence if our water supply is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. However, I stumbled upon the site “Pissed Consumer”– a very (ahem) frank discussion on any consumer goods. Everyone kept talking about big concerns of mine: 1. cost of replacement filters (which seemed to only last 4-6 weeks at max, equal to apx 20-25 gallons) 2. filters actually left a fishy taste 3. doesn’t remove fluoride. I already am hit by the wafts of chlorine in my water- if it smelled like a fish, I probably wouldn’t drink the amount my ever loving doctor keeps hounding me to. Some people even doubted the TDS meter… ah! I pretty much crossed of Pur, Brita and Zerowater at this point since they all (minus the fishy complaint) filter in the same method (thus removing the same things) and cost about the same to maintain. Start up cost: $30 pitcher $16 single filter (Amazon Prime)

Back to the drawing board.

We felt like maybe we had to think ‘bigger’. After all- we don’t replace a single shingle on our roof at a time- we replace the whole thing to provide a dry home. If I want clean water for the whole family for the rest of our lives (which I do but sounds really long when I am typing it out), I need to think about my lifetime cost.

Enter, reverse osmosis [Reverse osmosis uses osmotic pressure to push water through a semipermeable membrane, removing salt and any harmful substances. Cited.]. Pros: filters out to a higher degree than other carbon based counter pitcher systems, removes chlorine, provides longer intervals between filter replacement, and can be installed under the sink to eliminate wasted counter tops. Cons: does not remove bacteria (you can install a UV light which will hopefully inhibit growth of bacteria but has been shown to fail), is very expensive to start off, removes essential trace minerals that your body does need (which can exacerbate and or possibly cause problems such as osteoporosis and thyroid problems), generates waste water (our water bill is already pricey and this would create a loss of about 3 to 5 gallons per 1 gallon made in the system), and the filters can be expensive to replace especially if your home already has hard water since you will run through filters faster. Start up cost: $230-340 depending on whole unit purchased $30- $180 

Sigh.

At this point I decided to learn a bit more about the method my brother was imploring. As always- there’s a youtube video for that. I wasn’t familiar with every type of water system he covered and started to read more; I learned about how English Royalty hired the now Royal Berkefeld company to create a water system for them. Their water filters are unique and campers, survivalists and rescue teams all rely on the ability of Berkey filters to remove literally everything in the water (fluoride included!). Don’t believe me on how much they filter out, look:

Berkey Water Filters vs Top Consumer Brands

Berkey

Berkey

Berkey

Berkey

Aquasana

Pur

Brita 

Brita 

 Model

Big Berkey w/ Black Berkey Elements(set of 2)

Big Berkey w/Super Sterasyl Ceramic Filters(set of 2 – 9″)

PF-2 Fluoride and Arsenic Filters [Post Filter for Black Berkey] (set of 2)

PF-4 Fluoride and Arsenic Filters [Post Filter for SS Ceramic Filter] (set of 4)

Countertop AQ-4000

Faucet 3 Stage FM9700

Faucet Filter w/ Advanced Features

Pitcher Filter 6

Retail Price

$250

$250

$119.99

$49.99

$29.99

$25 (avg)

Replacement Filter Cost

$99 / 6000 Gallons

$96 / 6000 Gallons

$54.95 / 1000 Gallons

$94.95 / 1 Year3

$49.99 / 500 Gallons

(RF-9999)$19.99 / 100 Gallons

$19.99 /100 Gallons

$7.99 / 40 Gallons

Cost / Gallon

1.7¢ / Gal

1.6¢ / Gal

5.5¢ / Gal

n/a 3

10¢ / Gal

20¢ / Gal

20¢ / Gal

20¢ / Gal

Replacement Filter Cost / Yr 1

$13.26 / Yr

$12.48 / Yr

$42.90 / Yr

n/a

$78 / Yr

$156 / Yr

$156 / Yr

$160 / Yr

1st Yr Cost 2

$250

$250

$55

$95

$170

$190

$170

$177

2nd Yr Cost

$0

$0

$55

$95

$78

$156

$156

$160

3rd Yr Cost

$0

$0

$0

$95

$156

$156

$156

$160

4th Yr Cost

$0

$0

$55

$95

$156

$156

$156

$160

5th Yr Cost

$0

$0

$55

$95

$156

$156

$156

$160

5 Year Total Investment

$250

$250

$220

$475

$560

$658

$638

$657

Aluminum

up to 95%

No

Reduced

No

No

No

No

Copper

up to 95%

No

Reduced

No

No

No

> 96%

Iron

up to 95%

No

Reduced

No

No

No

No

Lead

up to 95%

No

> 99%

> 99 %

> 99%

> 99 %

> 98%

Mercury

up to 95%

No

Reduced

> 99 %

> 92%

No

> 95%

Pathogenic Bacteria

> 99.99999%

> 99.99%

No

No

No

No

Cysts

> 99.99999% 

> 99.99%

> 99.99 %

> 99.9 %

> 99 %

No

Parasites

> 99.99999% 

> 99.99%

> 99.99 %

No

No

No

E-Coli

> 99.99999% 

> 99.99%

No

No

No

No

Arsenic

see PF-2’s

see PF-4’s

Reduced 5

Reduced 5

No

No

No

No

Fluoride

see PF-2’s

see PF-4’s

> 99.75%

> 99.75%

40-60%

No

No

No

Chlorine

BDL4

> 90%

> 99 %

> 98 %

> 99 %

> 96%

MTBE

BDL4

Reduced

> 95%

> 99 %

> 96 %

No

No

THM’s

BDL4

Reduced

Reduced

> 99 %

> 98.5 %

No

No

Nitrates and Nitrites

Reduced 5

No

No

No

No

No

VOC’s

BDL4

Reduced

> 99 %

No

No

Alachor

BDL4

Reduced

> 98 %

> 99 %

> 99 %

No

Atrazine

BDL4

Reduced

> 97 %

> 95 %

> 92 %

No

Benzene

BDL4

Reduced

> 99 %

> 97 %

> 98 %

No

Lindane

BDL4

Reduced

> 99 %

> 92 %

> 99 %

No

Radon 222

BDL4

Reduced

No

No

No

No

The symbol “>” represents “Greater Than”
> 99.99999% exceeds EPA 7 ANSI/NSF water purification standards

1 Based on water usage of 15 Gallons / week (between drinking and cooking)

2 1st Year Cost includes purchase of initial system

3 2 PF-4’s last 6 months of use or 1000 gallons (whichever comes first)

4 BDL = Chemicals or Contaminants are reduced to Beyond Detectable Limits

5 Level of reduction dependent upon number of competing contaminants in source water

Manufacturer recommends to filter no more than 2 Gallons / Day for best results

© BigBerkeyWaterFilters.com


The chart was impressive but I was still a skeptic, so back to YouTube. No- not for scientific backing [come on people], but for opinions. Were the filters easy to clean? Did they last long? How large was the unit when set up? How ‘dirty’ of water can I use and still have it come out clean? I found that filters take a simple cleaning with a ScotchBrite pad when they are mucky- and most filters last 6,000 gallons! 6,000 gallons! The different units require different space- the ‘average’ family size is the Big Berkey and is under 21 inches tall and less than 9 inches in diameter. Every single review I found demonstrated people utilizing the system in both home and extreme cases- it seemed like the best fit!

We did decide on a Big Berkey stainless system. I don’t like the idea of my food being stored in plastics- even when they are food grade. So our canister is stainless steel and provides a slick surface so that bacteria can not grow easily if the water remains stagnate (were talking awhile) and the stainless prevents light from shining in which prevents bothersome algae from growing (and requiring UV lights like in some reverse osmosis systems). My favorite parts? We get clean water, free of viruses, contaminates, heavy metals and fluoride. It doesn’t have an odor or taste other than fresh spring water, and I don’t need to worry about buying or changing filters for over a year and maybe longer!!! We got a great deal online * and got our whole system- stainless canister, 2 black elements and 2 PF2 filters for under $260. That means that I am paying less than two CENTS a gallon. A GALLON! The best thing? In an emergency we can take our Berkey with us or bring ANY source of water to it. Creek water? Awesome. Rain runoff? No problem. Puddle water? Yup.

I support municipal services and I am glad that I live in an area where Lake Michigan water is our source. However, to treat, store and also dispense water on that level requires so many chemicals. Some of these are necessities- they allow our municipal water to be stored in water towers and travel to our home where we, for the most part, do not need to worry before we drink it straight out of the tap (in comparison to other countries around the world where water is dangerous).

I just feel strongly that when I am making the choice to buy organic eggs or free range meats and green cleaning products, why would I not provide the best and purest form of water that I can?


Interested in more? I WOULD LOVE TO SHARE. We didn’t receive any compensation or items for this post- it is really just my own excitement for clean living and desire to share it with friends. Take a few minutes and research the states that have banned fluoride. Look into how it is no longer used in most of Europe. (I hope to dedicate an entire post on Fluoride)  Read about your own cities EPA results on your water source and really go through your own water usage and filtering units to know what you are elective putting into your own body. Finally- choose to be an informed consumer and citizen. If you don’t agree with what is being chosen for you- make your own decision.

* I chose to include a link to BigBerkeyWaterFilters.com because I interacted with multiple distributors and had phone calls with several; asking questions, learning about the filters and units, and trying to identify the best system for my needs. I spoke with ‘Ann’ whom has a blog area on their website full of tips and other hints to keeping your Berkey in tip top shape. I wanted to refer you to them, if you are interested in watching more videos/reading/learning more or even buying your own system, because they give the best warranty, offered multiple discounts that no one else did, provided my Berkey (after processing) in 2 days, and were genuinely in love with the product they were selling.

inspired.

I have read so many articles lately about how parents in today’s world feel an amazing amount of pressure to be p.e.r.f.e.c.t.. This doesn’t mean that my parents or grandparents weren’t concerned with raising healthy, emotionally stable, and intellectually sound individuals; it means that they weren’t obsessing over it ever second of the day while in constant (real-time) comparison with their peers (curse you Twitter and blog-o-sphere!).

So, I’m breathing.

I’m taking a step back and telling myself that not every toy in my daughter’s room needs to be organically sourced, hand-made, rotated, purchased, polished, and seen on ever top learning site. I am re-training my brain that playing with a coffee can and milk tops is beneficial to my daughter’s development while also inspiring her creativity-didn’t have to cost money- and is acceptable.

My Bible Study is currently reading Elizabeth George’s Putting On a Gentle and Quiet Spirit; and while this is an area that I am working on within myself (my mindset and heart), I also feel that it is a whole area of parenting that is often time overlooked. I feel this constant push and fight against time to cram everything that my daughter will need in order to save the world- before she even has breakfast (slight exaggeration, but you get the idea). And that is what is wrong with our generation; we have this constant fight and competitor’s spirit to push and prune our children into ultimate intelligent machines, never relaxing because that would make them idle. That would be so utterly, devastatingly bad. YIKES!

So this month I am working on savoring the quiet moments. Here are a few things I am trying:

  • letting my almost 2-year-old daughter guide quiet breaks during the day. After about 15-20 minutes of intentional activities, I am letting her feel the break and silence and decide for herself what activity is to follow. Then we ‘go with the flow’. Letting her decide how to fill her time will help her executive functioning and calm her spirit when there is a break; she doesn’t always need to be running this marathon of activities!
  • building a ‘quiet time’ library. I actually decided to host a small get together with three other neighborhood moms and we will build our own (budget friendly) bags to help our kids have independent and quiet time during each day. While these bags are very easily filled from the dollar store, GOOGLE quiet bags and you will see that many bags/ideas are things you already have around the house. (Think Popsicle sticks, Velcro, stickers, clothes pins and rice!)
  • finding Bible verses that remind me of patience, peace, and love- memorizing them, and practicing them when my daughter is around. If I don’t demonstrate to her how to incorporate the Bible into our lives and actively involve God in our every day, how else will she learn it? More importantly, how else can I expect her to if I don’t live what I teach? {Looking for some printables? Try these: Free PRINTABLE ABC’s of Scripture, Beginning Bible Verses for Toddlers, Easter/Christian Printables}
  • creating a single lesson or moment that I want to be the goal of the day. By only making a single, isolated topic or lesson my goal, I am not overwhelmed with writing skills, fine motor, muscular development, manners, ABC’s, numbers, grooming, chores, responsibility, etc..One goal makes me take a break and delegate other lessons to other days- while providing her time to really absorb a single idea. (And hopefully helps her attention span focus on a single task before bouncing off to others!) Case in point; instead of focusing on ABC’s and numbers, this week we have worked on numbers. The pay off: she can count up to 20!! (seriously!)

Relax fellow Mommies. Meaningful moments of instruction far outweigh scattered activities just to fill the time. Unplug yourself from the outside world and it’s demands and today just sit with your kid and let them direct the play. Let yourself relax and enjoy the break from the rushing of our world. Let yourself be inspired by your child and discover the world around you together.

Side note: in following this theme, I have taken somewhat of a hiatus lately from blogging and my Etsy shop. While I am LOTS of ideas and plans for the next few months, I am taking my time posting so that my priorities and time are delegated appropriately. While I am not listing an inventory right now for my Etsy storefront, I AM accepting custom orders and will respond to messages sent via Etsy.

Keep following!

updates. brownies. and partially mulched bushes.

It is been a c.r.a.z.y. month!

Updates:

  • My Etsy shop got a slight face-lift thanks to a GREAT friend (make sure to stop by and see the new banner and uploaded images in the “About Me” section)!
  • I created and gifted my first custom embroidered baby quilt!!
  • I received custom orders for another baby quilt, embroidered bib and bodysuit, overnight bag and wet-bags from across the country!!
  • You can follow me on Twitter, Polyvore and there’s even a fan page on Facebook!!
  • I finished painting one of the last two rooms in my home that were yet to be touched since we moved in (3 years ago).
  • Professional business cards were printed and are awaiting eager hands 😉 (Know someone who might like my shop? Let me know!!)
  • My first raffle went splendidly; another big thanks to Talk for Me Tees.

All of those things were going on while the baby bunny decided to take my dear hubby and I on a brutal journey through sleep regression land, (Two and a half weeks of three-hour stretches being awake during the night. It was NOT fun.) and we were tying up loose ends as we prep for a cedar fence install this week.

Every time I went to the computer, there was something else that needed my immediate attention and about 5 posts have remained in the ‘draft’ stage. But, YEAY! I found a few minutes and wanted to update those that are loyal to my little blog and get out a good rant. After all; it’s a Monday.

Rant: M.I.A. business owners.

The Hubby and I decided a while ago that a fence would really improve our little one’s outdoor play- mainly by keeping her physically intact as cars use our small street as a cut through. After hosting about five different companies in my house for their full presentations- we decided on a single fence company. I am SO glad that I am done with sales people (for the time being); I thought listening to prospective furnace options was daunting: fencing is an even more complicated beast!  After we picked our company, I thought that it would be a breeze waiting for our fence to arrive- after all- we didn’t need that much prep done to our open yard.

Was. I. Ever. Wrong.

The task was small; remove and grind a single side of our yard that had bushes acting as a privacy fence. The execution of said task was horribly annoying. We originally decided to have our neighbor help with the job since hauling away all the cut bushes seemed like it would be a daunting task. However, one day our other neighbor had a tree company out and were removing [a small forest of] trees. When they came by offering a quote for tree removal on our property, I entertained them out of curiosity. Their estimate was low. Really low. Lower even than if Hubby would rent a grinder himself to do the work. I thought this was a ‘no brainer’; as much as I wanted to give our hard-working neighbor the job, I could eliminate my Husband’s contribution and free up precious time on the weekend.

The tree “company” sent workers over a few hours later and started to hack on our bushes. About 2 hours later most of the bushes were mulched and the workers were packing up. It took me two trips outside to ask the workers if they were going to finish removing the bottom portions of the bushes and large branches that were still in the area. The end result wasn’t encouraging. They insisted the rest would be done later as they took breaks about every 20 minutes from hauling small pieces of the bushes into the mulcher. I even had to run outside at one point as the owner of the company reversed down our block and around the corner, heading straight for my mom’s car! He got furious at me when I asked him to stop and go around the block in the correct directions. After all; fences are expensive- I didn’t want to add body work to the bill when I would need to fix up my mom’s car.

I paid the company 75% of the bill with the understanding that the remainder of the bill would be paid upon completion of the job.

Fast forward almost 2 weeks: the bushes were still above ground, with branches on them, debris all around, stumps intact- and my attempts to call the company resulted in their full inbox and me stranded with a fence install date just a few days away.

Lesson of the rant: saving a few dollars isn’t always worth it. Hire workers that are efficient, have good recommendations, take your time seriously, and return phone calls. A company should return your phone calls in a timely fashion and or explain why there is a delay.

We ended up finally having to track the owner down in person. He made us wait 40 minutes (we think in an attempt to have us leave out of frustration) before even talking to us and then gave us a list of excuses as to why he was so busy he couldn’t return our phone calls or have anyone out to finish the job. We ended up getting some of our money back and hiring our neighbor.

(With a smile on my face) Bushes are currently being ground as we speak. And as a special thank you- the neighbor gets a plate of brownies with his cash. I appreciate follow through on jobs!

Have you ever been ripped off by a contractor/ company? What did you do as a result?

My plans are to contact the BBB this weekend. But that could all be delayed: fence will be installed Tuesday and I plan on spending the whole day outside staring at my improved yard (and watching the baby try to figure out how to escape).

‘click’. ugh-oh.

There are very few things that can send you gut plummeting through the Earth’s strata quicker than the realization that your car just got locked. With the keys inside. And your child.

Yep, that happened.

I was pretty proud of myself when I managed to shower, get both the babe and I dressed, fed, and out the door before 10 am yesterday to knock off a few chores. I don’t usually do errands in the morning- there are too many things that have to be done prior to leaving that by the time I have everything ready it is almost nap time again. Nevertheless, I managed to get us out the door and to our second errand destination; the fabric store. We picked up zippers (thanks to Susan, Eileen, Carolyn and Marie for your recent orders!), Fray check, and a few other novelties. A little disappointed in myself that I didn’t remember my coupons, I was pacified when the cashier found a one I could use and finished checking me out. I was in autopilot as I left the store and unlocked the car doors. Placing Baby Bunny’s diaper bag in the back seat, I re-locked the doors to safeguard us against rouge parking lot robbers (enter recent news reports) and left her door open as I was strapping her into her car seat. I usually do this little routine, so I didn’t really think about the doors being locked when Baby bunny threw her shoe, right out of the open car door. I decided, yet again in an effort to save us from rogue attacks, it would be safer for the car door to be shut while I picked up the shoe. (How it wound up all the way under the front bumper is a mystery- that girl can throw a curve ball!)

*Ka-slam*

Shoe in hand, I reached back for the car door handle and gave it a pull. The handle didn’t do a darn thing though. ‘Hmm.’ I thought, ‘that’s odd” as I pulled even harder.

“Oh. My. Gosh”.

I realized in an instant what had happened. The car was locked- and thinking I had the keys still in my pocket- I was nervous, but relieved that I wasn’t so careless to leave the keys in with her. Oh- but no. I was that careless. In an effort to keep the keys out of Baby’s mouth- I had stashed them in the shopping bag. Which was in the back seat. With my daughter. In the locked car.

I really have no idea where the car behind me came from or when they pulled up. But we were the only two cars in that parking lot at 10:30 am. I was frantically looking around (my phone was in the car too) and was trying to figure out how I would relay a message to someone in the store to call help for me, so that I wouldn’t be leaving the baby in the car, outside, alone. Looking in the windshield of this neighboring vehicle- it was two older ladies whom looked to be compassionate enough to help me out. I knocked, explained what happened and (pitifully) begged to borrow their phone. I don’t think they quite understood how borrowing a phone would help get the kiddo out of the car, but they obliged. (Enter perfect marketing campaign geared at older adults)

I called On-star and literally within about 90 seconds, the car doors were all unlocked! Baby Bunny didn’t even notice what had been going on and handed me her book while I rummaged to find the keys and grip them tight. I profusely thanked my phone angels and offered to pay them for their help (should they have taken me up on it I might have had to pay in a few forms of restaurant gift cards)- but they declined. Selfless good Samaritans!

I retreated back to my car, keys gripped ever so tight, and started to cry from relief. I know it sounds like a commercial, but what if I hadn’t had On-star? The husband and I occasionally talk about cancelling our subscription; I don’t drive as much anymore, we aren’t even in the car very often, and it is an extra expense. I can honestly say that I would have paid a small fortune in that moment to just gain access to my locked kid. I can’t imagine if I would have had to worry about the summer sun beating on the car or other bad weather; On-Star gave me almost instant access to my car. I am so glad we kept our subscription up and know for certain we will always have that safe-guard in place.

Many times parenting results in gut wrenching ‘oh my gosh’ moments- I am just glad this one was short-lived and was easily fixed, and hopefully reminds some other’hands full, busy, preoccupied mom’ to verify where your keys are before locking the door. (After all, how many rogue people are out there patrolling fabric store parking lots?? I think we’re pretty safe)

eating out with allergies. (updated)

Begin rant: restaurants make it SO difficult to quickly identify what foods contain the top allergens. Being the parent of a severe egg allergy child- this does not make me warm and fuzzy when I think about eating out. I do my diligent homework and try to look at restaurant nutrition information prior to leaving (because I hate those stares from people in line behind me when I am trying to see if an ingredient will send my kid to the E.R.)- but so many times the 11 page nutrition sheet doesn’t include allergens! (Just calories and fat)

Solution to rant: Chick- fil-a. FINALLY! An easy, at a glance allergen menu that I can read and understand in less than 1 minute. I had to share it! The good news for Chick-fil-a- yet another reason why I love supporting them.

Like, right now. Off we go to dinner. At Chick-fil-a… with our allergen menu in hand. LOVE it when something is simple.

 

**Update: After dinner, I had to add a few quick notes: Chick-fil-a provides cheerios for toddlers in small containers (with lids on them)  in the same area as the silverware (a great distraction while waiting in line), plastic disposable place mats are free to use and automatically draped over high chairs, table wipes are on top of ever trash container and every table (which was super clean) had fresh flowers on it (but yes, I am that mom that Clorox wiped my table anyways), and kids meals come with REAL FRUIT bowls. Don’t be fooled by the title ‘fruit cup’- no, no, my friend. It is a real bowl of cut fruit! Baby Bunny had fresh apple slices, mandarin oranges, blueberries and strawberries- without a yucky syrup- just fresh cut fruit!!!